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Golf Australia Express : Issue 6
By Sam Gole VIEW THE W ATCHING THE best play against the best is what it’s all about. But in golf, it seems this happen is the exception rather than rule. Other than the four majors and the four World Golf Championship events, it’s a rare sight. And it’s a shame for golf fans. For much of the year the event schedules between the main tours clash clashes by golf’s main tours—the US PGA and European tours. As a result, we often miss out on a chance to see the world’s best compete head-to-head. The players, too, are starved of opportunities to play against the best. And how can anyone accurately rank them if they’re not competing in the same environment? For these reasons, golf needs a World Tour. Of course that’s no revelation. Greg Norman raised this very notion more than 15 years ago. His proposal to bring the best golfers in the world under one platform to play in eight tournaments received wide support. The only real objection to it came from the PGA in the US. The Shark’s vision fuelled one of golf’s greatest feuds— Norman versus PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Finchem’s reply to Norman’s quest was simple: “Over my dead body.” Finchem then went on to oversee the introduction of the pseudo world tour, the WGC events, of which three of the four are played—you guessed it—in the USA. “World” Golf Championships, indeed. The problem with both Norman’s plans and the current WGC event series is neither goes far enough to meet another important purpose of introducing a World Tour—growing the game globally. Sure the fields will be stronger and that alone will satisfy some of the intentions for it. But the original WGT schedule only included four events outside of the US: Scotland, Canada, Spain and Japan. Scotland already hosts a major and with one of the other territories being a US neighbour in Canada, the plan hardly aides the globalisation of golf. The current WGC structure does little to expand the game either. With one event played outside the US, it means only two of eight world events—four majors and four WGC events— are away games for the Americans. That’s just not good enough. Despite what many of our star-spangled friends might think, the USA is not the World. Shouldn’t a World Tour be as much about where the events are staged as who attends? Having the best golfers play golf in one country doesn’t make it a World Tour. In the same way as America’s national baseball series isn’t really the World Series of Baseball. Imagine the best golf show played in established and emerging marketplaces week to week around the globe. With the galleries and interest comes localised media focus and the promotion of golf to the masses. The flow-on effect into golf tourism—which we know is big business—would be phenomenal. And with more people playing golf, the greater need for more courses. The benefits are endless. But maybe golf is actually closer to having a World Tour than we think. In some ways, it already has an unofficial one. It’s called the European Tour. It has the great players—check out the latest world rankings and you’ll notice four of the top-five are European Tour golfers. It also takes golf to the world—27 countries will host sanctioned events this year. In essence all that’s really needed for the European Tour to become golf’s official World Tour is a handful of the PGA Tour’s finest to jump ship, leave their country and embrace a tour not their own. Yeah, right. Like that’s ever going to happen. EMAIL YOUR THOUGHTS TO: firstname.lastname@example.org THE WORLD GAME Globalising golf starts by dropping its US-dominant focus Imagine playing here in Chiang Mai at Chiang Mai Highlands Or Hua Hin playing Black Mountain Pattaya, playing Siam Country Club Or Phuket playing at Red Mountain (Click on any of the pictures above to get golf week destination details) 8 SUPERB EVENTS Which one will you play? Tailored golf packages also available www.thailandgolftours.com.au Thailand Golf Tours A Unique Golf Experience